Saturday, November 23, 2013

Shocking Rise In Electricity Complaints

Electricity Complaint Hotline
Is the NSW electricity retail system broken, when it comes to accuracy, honesty and fairness?

Is it just NSW or are the type of issues systemic across Australia?

Why does there appear to be a growing number of issues being reported to the NSW Energy & Water Ombudsman, that can only be thought of as fraudulent or having the aroma of 'bad faith'?

Such issues as,
  • Thousands of householders having their electricity accounts transferred to new suppliers in error, or without their consent. Accounts transferred in error surged by 90 per cent, while accounts transferred without consent rose 84 per cent
  • Complaints about electricity companies rose by more than 50 per cent to 29,924 over the past year, hitting all-time highs according to the Energy & Water Ombudsman
  • Poor electricity retailer staff-training and inflexibility in handling customer issues, have resulted in more disputes being forwarded to the Ombudsman

So what is the fix, for what we can only describe as very basic errors due to a lack of ground level training, control, regulation, rules, ethics, enforcement and so on?

To read more about this issue, visit the Sydney Morning Herald for their report on the SHOCKING RISE IN ELECTRICITY COMPLAINTS

Visit our ELECTRICITY BILLING ERRORS for more examples.

This blog post and podcast brought to you by Aussie Home Energy, a major player in the HOME ELECTRICITY REDUCTION SERVICE industry in Australia.

Friday, November 22, 2013

6 Cases Of Electricity Billing And Metering Errors

Electricity Errors Help No One
Or should we be saying, 6 GOOD REASONS electricity billing and metering, needs to be improved and better regulated and further standardised in Australia.

Being a small ELECTRICITY AUDIT BUSINESS involved with the everyday sorting of electricity billing, metering and usage issues for householders and small business in Australia, you would think the metering and billing errors we see are far and few. We would say errors of this type, some detailed here in this blog post, account for more that 20% of our ELECTRICITY AUDIT SERVICE requests.

Business Client : Six electricity meters present with the client being billed for six meters. An electricity meter was sited that only appeared on one electricity bill during the year, whilst still being active in realtime. Another electricity meter was on all of the electricity bills with considerable cost shown, but was not found to be on site. In fact this phantom electricity meter was reported as not being listed or registered / active in NSW by the electricity distributor.

Residential Client : An elderly couple whom moved into a home eighteen months ago, had a new electricity meter installed at that time, as the original was faulty. They had only ever been charged for off-peak electricity during this eighteen month period after the new meter installation.

Residential Client : Hot water was being billed on the peak tariff, even though the ripple controller and off-peak meter was present and being seen as active by the electricity distributor and noted by the householder. The electricity retailer denying the off-peak meter was installed and the client was mistaken. Photographs were not evidence enough with this retailer to make the case!

Residential Client : Electricity billing errors on a TOU tariff, where two rates for each tariff are stated on the bill due to a price change. The problem being the first price rate for each tariff was not correctly computed resulting in a over charge, on each tariff. The multiplication of kWh used and cost did not compute. It is thought this is not to be client specific and could be a systemic billing error, by this electricity retailer. This electricity issue is still under investigation.

Residential Client : The householder was informed by the electricity retailer a TOU tariff was in force. In fact the client was being billed on a tiered rate with a hybrid electricity bill showing some details of a TOU graph and table. No TOU meter was installed and the electricity retailer was informed of this. This error by the electricity retailer was stopping the householder from sorting other electricity hardware issues.

Residential Client : Hot water found to be using 100% peak electricity. The householder was informed by the electricity retailer off-peak was not available, in any case! Off-peak electricity was in fact available and a new off peak meter was installed.

With most of the cases we come across the electricity issue is eventually solved, but why is it so difficult to solve and why is the client often treated as an idiot by the electricity retailer?

Being treated like an idiot only results in more householders changing electricity retailer, with this action opening up the chance for error yet again.

Is it not time we had more regulation to stop these simple basic issues appearing time and time again?

Visit our ELECTRICITY BILLING ERRORS for more examples.

This blog post and podcast brought to you by Aussie Home Energy, a major player in the HOME ELECTRICITY REDUCTION SERVICE industry in Australia.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Is Your Solar Power Monitor Measuring Electricity Consumption?

Electricity Consumption Monitoring
Electricity Consumption Monitoring
A lot of homes with SOLAR POWER MONITORING via bluetooth or wi-fi connection from the inverter, lack home electricity consumption monitoring. 

And where net metering is installed at the property, your home electricity consumption and solar generation are both as important. You really need to know them both!

If you know what you are generating but not consuming in a net metering environment, how do you maximise the gain of your system.

Could you be letting valuable energy slip out to the grid at only 8 cents per kilowatt?

Could you be using more electricity from the roof, when it could be worth up to 55 cents on a TOU tariff?

How do you know you are not using more electricity than is being generated, meaning you are now importing electricity? You could use less now and more later, but when?

It is with no answers to questions such as this, that prove there is no way you can efficiently manage the cost effectiveness of such a system.  

Simply put if you are generating electricity and have no idea of the power consumption, then you are losing out as you do not have the necessary tools to know otherwise.

By adding a simple ELECTRICITY MONITORING SOLUTION to your house, for the purpose of measuring the electricity consumption, then of course you are now in a position to make the best decisions based on generated electricity and consumed electricity.

To learn more about the monitoring and analysis of your electricity usage and solar pv system's output, visit our ONLINE ELECTRICITY MONITORING page, where we make the task of getting your data online, very easy.

Sep 2015 : See our addition to this post, where we discuss a great SOLAR PV MONITORING ANDROID APP suitable for all net metering environments.

This blog post and podcast brought to you by Aussie Home Energy, a major player in the HOME ELECTRICITY SAVING SERVICE industry in Australia.

7 Easy Ways To Improve Electricity Billing In Australia

After checking the billing components of various Australian electricity bills, offered to householders in New South Wales, we would suggest there are many changes to be made, to help add clarity to residential electricity billing.

Changes and improvements that allow the householder and electricity retailer, to reduce the number of times confusion arises, due to incorrect or lack of information.

1. A STANDARD COMMON LAYOUT offered by all electricity retailers is sought. Retailers can add to occurring errors, by constantly encouraging householders to change their electricity plans, to further save off costs. This constant changing back and forth along with different billing layouts, increases the total confusion by the householder and also can add the chance of error from moving billing from one computer system to another.

Required is a simple and easy to understand layout, designed and tested to help the Aussie householder understand the electricity bill. When you are faced with a variety of electricity bills from many retailers in a day as we are, it makes you realise how varied these electricity bills are in layout and design. 

There does not seem to be a logical structure with some of the electricity bills offered.

2. EASY TO UNDERSTAND CONTENT which is designed to make the electricity bill an easy read 100% of the time. The electricity bill has for to long, been a 'no go' area for many householders. Due often to the complexity of the bill. With the increase in electricity costs, householders need to be able to understand the bill quickly.

We have seem some electricity bills that are so complex, on some occasions they are not even fully understood, by the electricity retailer's telephone contact!

3. TIME OF USE COST ANALYSIS for a true understanding of this tariff's costs. Electricity retailers provide a usage graph related to the Time Of Use tariff, so why not offer one with the cost analysis of the same.

It is all very good to pat the householder on the back for using only 25% of peak electricity, without pointing out that this same usage, could be accounting for close to 50% of the electricity costs! This is very misleading as the householder thinks they are doing the right thing, whilst they could still be doing far more to reduce their electricity costs, if the tariff was understood 100%!

4. NUMBER OF DAYS BILLED FOR needs to be clearer and highlighted more, to reduce the chance of the householder thinking they have used more electricity, for a standard period. 

We have seen electricity bills for 83 days to 125 days. Meaning a large electricity bill can all of a sudden ring alarm bells for many householders and create unwanted stress. The householder thinking they have used far more electricity. And for this same unknown reason they are being billed for a far greater amount than normal! 

When in fact they may have used the same, amount of power per day. The number of days needs to stand out like the total cost! Is this practice of better clarity not going to result in less phone calls to the retailer? 

5. TIME OF USE TARIFF TIMES are not stated on any electricity bill we have seen in NSW. Time Of Use electricity bills need to contain the time of use tariff information. 

Whilst some homes may have a variety of in-date or out-of-date Time Of Use stickers on the fridge, not many homes fully understand their current TOU tariff times. 

This data needs to be added to the electricity bill, so the householder can manage their costs better. Which is it not, the main reason the householder is on the TOU tariff according to the electricity retailer? We would argue that managing and reducing, are two very different subjects, when it comes to the electricity bill.

6. METER TYPE & TARIFF TYPE are not often known or understood fully by the householder. The type of meter installed by the electricity distributor could help a lot of householders with issues related to meter. During discussion with the retailer about billing, the meter type is important as it can help to clarify certain aspects of the billing.

For example in a home with three mechanical spinning disks meters, the householder thought they had a digital meter, after speaking to the electricity retailer's support centre. No digital meter was present and no time of use tariff was in force, as discussed by the electricity retailer. A tiered rate tariff in fact was current with an electricity bill showing both tiered rate billing and graphs for a TOU tariff. Totally confusing! 

Now whilst this may have occurred during a changeover of retailers, it would certainly have helped reduce the confusion in the home. Especially where the retailer thinks they are correct and in fact in this case were mistaken. Meter type and tariff type clearly needs to be stated at the beginning of the electricity bill.

7. ELECTRICITY RETAILERS PLAN NAME can be sometime really difficult to find on the electricity bill. And even harder on some electricity retailer's websites, unless you sign up for the plan! Should we not have access to the information before deciding to commit? This needed information is not on all electricity bills.

It is often easy to see the tariff rate, but if other information is sought after by the householder, for let us say on off-peak options, these may differ where there are many types of plan. Sometimes we know the householder thinks they are on a certain plan, with the retailer saying they are on another plan. 

Questions then arise as to whether this changed without the householder's knowledge. Confusion and disagreement easily arise in this environment. The plan name needs to be added to the main page of the electricity bill.

As we can see a little basic information provided by the electricity retailers in a common and standard format, will assist in helping to make the electricity bill easily understood by many householders in Australia. This is not rocket science!

This is just a starting point for electricity bill improvement in Australia.

This blog post and podcast brought to you by Aussie Home Energy, a major player in the HOME ELECTRICITY REDUCTION SERVICE industry in Australia.

Why It Pays To Check For Electricity Bill Errors

Let's face it, we live in an automated society where electricity billing is left to the programmers and computer systems. The electricity bill nowadays for many householders, is often paid in a rush. This results in a lack of time for analysis. With further pressure being applied by the electricity retailers, to 'pay on time'. This 'paying on time' carrot, results in a nice hefty discount for many homes!

At Aussie Home Energy we have a different outlook regarding the attractive 'pay on time' discounts.

NOT Paying On Time Gets You A Fine!

And a fine of 17% for late payment can seriously hurt the bottom line!

With the pressure of 'paying on time', the busy household does not take the time to check the electricity bill. Once paid the electricity bill is filed away in many homes.

We often say not checking the electricity bill means you are going to remain solely a bill payer. None the wiser to your electricity usage, or electricity billing. 

So why not start taking the time to check your electricity bill?

Let's say you take a full 15 MINUTES out of your hectic lifestyle once every three months, to check your electricity bill. What could you discover? Are there really errors within Australian electricity bills?

The sample electricity bill shown here may answer that question. Whilst we are not going to mention whom the electricity retailer is whom supplied this bill, it does back up our statement that you need to check your electricity bill for accuracy. 

Electricity Bill Errors
Checking The Electricity Bill Can Save You

Remember in most cases your electricity bill is generated by a computer system, with ONLY YOU to check the accuracy of the bill! If you think your electricity bill is checked for accuracy by a human, think again!

Take a look at the sample electricity bill and see if you can spot the errors. In this case the errors are almost double any 17% discount! 

The total cost with errors for the electricity usage in our sample is $923.66. What is the correct total?

If you wish to add the maths with your comments, then please do.

Visit our ELECTRICITY BILLING ERRORS page for more fine Aussie examples.

This blog post and podcast brought to you by Aussie Home Energy, a major player in the HOME ELECTRICITY REDUCTION SERVICE industry in Australia.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Aussies Blinkered To Reducing Electricity Usage

Blinkered To Electricity Reduction
See The TRUE Savings!
Why is it that everyone seems to be abnormally focused, just on the cost of the electricity unit?

Why is there little focus on reducing the electricity usage in the average Australian home?

We would argue that reducing electricity, is far more important than a small reduction offered by the electricity retailer, per electricity unit. After all you could possibly save far more, than ten or twelve per cent off the electricity usage costs if you reduced all of the wasted electricity in your home and also used it more efficiently.

Ask yourself are you aware of where you are using electricity in your home, when you using it and how much? Why not?

Imagine driving a car where you do not know how much petrol you have, how much petrol you use, how far you have gone and how far you have to go, to reach your destination. Imagine if that very useful dashboard, was simply not there! You would simply be out of touch big time, YES? You would not have a clue!

And guess what, this is where most Australian householders are when it comes to electricity usage and costs. Did you know there is a home dashboard for your electricity usage and costs? YES it is called a HOME ELECTRICITY MONITOR. And household electricity monitors have been on the market for well over five years!

These electricity monitors when installed in a typical Sydney home, often pay for themselves within the first quarter, sometimes many times over, with the electricity savings that are easily highlighted to everyone in the home. And it is not just the savings in electricity costs that are important, but more so the increased electricity reduction awareness.

Those householders that have taken the time to learn, where and when electricity usage occurs and what the cost is regarding the electricity used, simply know how to make electricity savings easily. Once they know this basic electricity information, they are in an educated position to make such decisions as,

  • Whether solar will work for their home.
  • How to reduce ALL standby electricity.
  • How to keep track 24/7 of electricity usage and costs. 
  • What the best electricity deal on the table is.

With no information on electricity usage and costs, guaranteed is the fact you will always remain in one place. The place of being 100% of the time, just a bill payer! Not knowing and repeatedly just paying the never increasing electricity bill. Being often kept forcibly in the loop by rushing to pay the bill on time, so as to not lose the 'pay on time' discount, offered by the electricity retailer! And the electricity retailer, LOVES people who are just bill payers, especially when they are using far more electricity than they would be, if they became Smart Electricity Users.

Of course once the electricity bill is paid, our everyday busy lifestyles means we file away the settled electricity bill. Learning absolutely nothing again of the electricity usage. And then we repeat the same process again and again.

And this is why most Australian households know little. And we end up with the situation of very happy electricity retailers and not so happy electricity users. The retailers know it is hard for the user to break the habit of just going ahead time and time again, to pay the electricity bill on-time with little resistance to anything else.

And if you are not educated at all on the electricity metering and billing, well than it is hard for you to understand how to discuss electricity usage and costs in detail, or even start to think about making a case for discussion.

If you were a little more power savvy on the other hand, you may notice what other householders notice, with that little electricity reduction knowledge at hand.

Ask yourself why is it that households similar to your own, are using less power? This is a common discussion we have with clients when starting a HOME ELECTRICITY AUDIT. Householders often think there is a problem with the meter, the billing or the appliances. Often there is not! It is the unknown usage that is the issue raising the electricity costs!

The biggest problem is that there have been far to many years of electricity bill darkness, for many householders. And most householders are simply using more and more electricity. It is not hard to fall into the trap of buying an efficient appliance that uses more power due to the increase in components, features or size. Most people look at the stars but not the energy used!

If you really do want to move on from being just an electricity bill payer, then Aussie Home Energy has more than a handful of ELECTRICITY SAVING SOLUTIONS, to help remove those electricity usage and cost blinkers!

Become a smart electricity user and call Aussie Home Energy today for HELP!

This blog post and podcast brought to you by Aussie Home Energy, a major player in the HOME ELECTRICITY REDUCTION SERVICE industry in Australia.

Help For Electricity Billing Problems In Australia

Are You Looking For Help With Your Electricity Billing?
Help With Electricity Billing Problems
If you are seeking help with your electricity billing problems, then please visit our website where besides highlighting common areas of concern amongst Australian householders, we offer you electricity billing suggestions.

All of our electricity bill advice helping you to increase your understanding of electricity supply and billing. Assisting you in finding a solution or being in a suitable situation to take the correct educated action.

This blog post and podcast brought to you by Aussie Home Energy, a major player in the HOME ELECTRICITY REDUCTION SERVICE industry in Australia.
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